The First Year at Mount Sinai
Let us recapitulate the first two months of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt in 2454 (refer to the chart below):
1. The first month of the year, the month of the Aviv, which the Creator established for His children began on the 5th day of the week.
2. On the 10th day of the month, which was a Sabbath, the Israelites took the Passover lamb home to observe it for four days to the Passover.
3. On the 14th day, which was the 4th day of the week, the Passover lamb was slaughtered.
4. On the 15th day, which was the first day of the feast of the Unleavened Bread, the lambs were eaten with bitter herbs in anticipating for the flight from Egypt. The children of Israel took the bone of Yoseph and departed.
5. In three days, it was reported to Pharaoh that the Israelites did not have the intent to return; for Pharaoh sent officers with them, and as soon as the three days the Israelites had set to go into the desert and return had elapsed, and they [the officers] saw that they were not returning to Egypt, they came and informed Pharaoh on the fourth day, which was the day of the First Fruits. On the fifth and the sixth days after the Israelites’ departure, they pursued them. On the night preceding the seventh, they went down into the sea. That happened on the 21st day of the month when they actually left the slavery in Egypt.
6. On the 15th day of the second month, which was Sabbath, the Israelites arrived at the Wilderness of Sin where they received for the first time manna from heaven.
7. And on the first day of the third month of the first year (Exo_19:1) Israel arrived at Mount Sinai and their stay would be eleven months and twenty days at the encampment at Sinai because they departed on the twentieth day of the second month of the second year (Num_1:1, Num_10:11-12).
Having said that, we come to the chronology of the events from the arrival of the Israelites at the Mount of YHVH until their departure for the Promised Land thus spanning eleven months and twenty days at Sinai.
THE FIRST YEAR AT MOUNT SINAI
Valuable information concerning the Creator’s reckoning of time can be obtained in the first three months of the Exodus story. Below are the charts showing in a chronological order the events in those first three months of their exodus from Egypt, as they came to pass.
THE THIRD MONTH OF THE YEAR
Day 1. After the battle with the Amalekites, the Hebrews set out from Rephidim and came to the Wilderness of Sinai (Num_33:15) on the first of the third month of the first year. The account of Exo_19:1 calls the day when they came to Sinai this day.
Literally, this day means something that stands out, is prominent, or is pointed out. If referring to the days of the month, it could mean the first day of the month, but if referring to the days of the week, it could mean the day of the week in which Israel came out of Egypt (the fifth day of the week which was the fourth day of the third month).
However, Rashi in his commentary on Num_10:11 says that they came at Mount Sinai on the first day of Sivan (that is the third month) and left on the twentieth of Iyyar (the second month) of the following year, thus spending eleven months and twenty days at Sinai,
Hence, you say that they spent twelve months minus ten days at Horeb, for on the first day of [the month of] Sivan, they encamped there, and did not travel until the twentieth of Iyyar of the following year.
If the Israelites had arrived at Mount Sinai on the first day of the third month, their stay would have been eleven months and twenty days as Rashi teaches, but if the arrival had been on the fourth, then it would have been eleven months and seventeen days.
Day 2. Mosheh went up to Elohim to hear His words (all his ascents were early in the morning, as it is said in Exo_34:4 and elsewhere, Shab. 86a):
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. And now, if you diligently obey My voice, and shall guard My covenant, then you shall be My treasured possession above all the peoples – for all the earth is Mine – and you shall be to Me a reign of priests and a set-apart nation. Those are the words which you are to speak to the children of Israel. (Exo_19:4-6)
Mosheh received the instructions of the Covenant (Exo 21-23) and related all the words to the people (Exo_24:3-7). He wrote the Book of the Covenant (v.7) as well as the laws which they had already received in Marah (Exo_15:23-25). That was the invitation of YHVH to his people for the Wedding ceremony at the mountain. And Mosheh came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words. And all the people answered together and said, “All that YHVH has spoken we shall do.”
Day 3. Mosheh brought back the words of the people to YHVH that all He had spoken they would do (Exo_19:8-9). [Shab. 86a] And He said to Mosheh to set boundaries around Mount Sinai and set the people apart for three days for on the third day of the preparation YHVH would come down on Mount Sinai before the eyes of all the people (Exo_19:10-11).
Day 4. And Mosheh came down from the mountain to the people on the fourth day. On that day he relayed to the people of Israel the words of YHVH to fence in the mountain and to set themselves apart in preparation for the giving of the Covenant); he also “wrote all the words of YHVH” (Exo_24:4). He also set the people apart not go near a woman for all these three days of preparation, in order that the women may immerse themselves on the third day and be pure to receive the Torah (Exo_19:14-15).
Day 5. Second day of preparation. Mosheh built the altar and the twelve monuments of the tribes of Israel at the foot of the mountain and the sacrifices were offered. On that day the people of Israel made the famous proclamation: “We will do and we will hear”. Mosheh was told to come up to YHVH with Aharon and his two sons, and the seventy elders (Exo_19:3-8, Exo_24:1-18) (Midrash Lekach Tov, based on Mechilta and Mechilta d’Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai on Exod. 19:10, Shab. 88a).
Day 6. Third day of preparation. And in the morning Mosheh brought the people out of the camp to meet with Elohim, and they stood at the foot of the Mount Sinai (Exo_19:16-17) and there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain. And the sound of the ram’s horn was very loud, and all the people who were in the camp trembled. The Covenant (Exo_20:2-17) was proclaimed before Israel on the sixth day of the third month which was Sabbath.
Aside of being a Sabbath, with what the sixth day of the third month is so significant. In Talmud, Shabbat 88a says regarding the Torah’s account of the creation of the world, as it is written in Gen 1:31, “And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” What is the purpose of the additional “the” (hashishi)? Because regarding the other days of creation, the Torah simply says, “And it was evening and it was morning, one day… a second day.. a third day, etc.”; “the sixth day” implies that the Torah is referring to a certain famous “sixth day”. This teaches, according to the Sages, that Elohim stipulated with the works of creation and said to them: “If Israel accepts the Torah (on the sixth of Sivan), you shall exist; but if not, I will turn you back into emptiness and formlessness.”
And YHVH came down on and called Mosheh to the top of the mountain, and Mosheh went up (Exo_19:20). Mosheh was warned that the people were not to come near Him and the priest were to be set apart [not to come near women] for the day when the Covenant would be given (Exo_19:20-22). And he was told to go down and then come up again with Aharon (Exo_19:24-25).
Insert: The Hebrew word Sinai means “my thorn”; another word derived from the parent root is seneh meaning “thorn bush”, the bush that Mosheh saw burning in Exo_3:2. Mount Sinai is also called Mount Horev (chorev – see Exo_3:1). The Hebrew word chorev comes from the root hharav meaning “to lay waste”, “be dried up” as well as “to fight”. There is an interesting connection between the Garden of Eden and Mount Sinai. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, Elohim placed a “flaming sword” at its entrance. The Hebrew word for “sword” is cherev coming from the same root, charav (fight/make waste), as the word chorev (wasteland) which is also called Sinai (thorn/sharp). (source: AHLB)
Day 7. The mountain was covered with cloud for seven days: from the first until the sixth day of the third month. These are the six days from the New Moon until the day when YHVH proclaimed His Covenant to the people. And on the seventh day He called to Mosheh out of the midst of the cloud. And the appearance of the esteem of YHVH was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain, before the eyes of the children of Israel. And Mosheh arose with Yehoshua and went up to the mountain of Elohim into the midst of the cloud (Exo_24:12-18).
Insert: The Sages disagree on the matter as to when these six days took place. Some Sages say that the cloud covered Mosheh for six days after the Ten Commandments were given, and they [these days] were at the beginning of the forty days that Mosheh ascended to receive the tablets (Yoma 4a).
And on the seventh day of the third month, on the first day of the week, which later would become the Feast of the Weeks or Shavuot, YHVH called Mosheh to give him the tablets of stone, and the Torah and the command which He had written, to teach them (Exo_20:2-17) and also to receive the instructions as to how to make the Ark of the Covenant (Exo_25:8-16), the Tabernacle, and the menorah for which two Israelites were appointed to do the work (Exo_31:2-7).
Yehoshua escorted Mosheh until the place of the limits of the boundaries of the mountain, for he was not permitted to go past that point. From there Mosheh alone ascended to the top of the mountain. Yehoshua pitched his tent and waited there for forty days. And it came to be that Mosheh was on the mountain forty days and forty nights (Exo_24:17-18) from the seventh of the third month until the seventeenth of the fourth month. And at the end of the forty days and forty nights he received the tablets of the Covenant (Deu_9:9-11).
THE FOURTH MONTH OF THE YEAR
Day 17. Mosheh returned to the camp. As found in Shabbath 89a, when Mosheh went up the mountain on the seventh, he said to the Israelites, “At the end of forty days I will come, within six hours” from sunrise of the fortieth day. They thought that the day he went up was included in the number of the forty days, but in fact he had said to them, forty days meaning complete days, including the nights. But the day of his ascent did not have its night included with it because he ascended in the morning. Thus, the first complete day started on the eighth and the fortieth day of Mosheh’ absence was the seventeenth of the fourth month. On the sixteenth, however, the people saw that Mosheh was not coming down from the mountain between before noon and afternoon and they gathered together to Aharon, and said to him to make a golden calf which would lead them to the Promised Land because they were confused that Mosheh might have died, for six additional hours had already passed and he had not yet come. They were confused because Mosheh did not descend until the next day, as it is said: “On the next day, they arose early…” (Exo_32:1-6). (Rashi; Talmud, Shabbat 89a) When Mosheh descended in forty days and nights [the 17th], Yehoshua heard the voice of the people as they shouted (Exo_32:17). We learn from there that Yehoshua was not with them. [Based on Mechilta] Mosheh descended from Mount Sinai to the camp to see that Israel had already broken the Covenant by having made an image of the invisible Elohim. In his anger, he broke the tablets of the Covenant into pieces (Exo_32:19-20).
Day 18. On the 18th he burned the golden calf and judged the sinners as about three thousand men fell that day. That day was a Sabbath.
What actually happened in the camp while Mosheh was on the mountain? The golden calf was presented to the people by Aharon as Ela Elohecha Yisrael, “This is the El of Israel” thus defining YHVH as being ‘This’ which concretizes and makes El tangible, a single entity, which is the essence of idolatry. The fact that the children of Israel made a molten calf has led some scholars to believe that they were making an image of Hathor, the Egyptian cow-faced goddess. However, that might have not been the case. Every time the ancient Hebrew people wrote the name El (God) in the ancient Hebrew pictographs, they saw before them a picture of an ox (alef) and a staff (lammed).
Insert: (from Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible by Jeff Benner) The original pictograph for letter alef (pla) is a picture of an ox head – a representing strength and power from the work performed by the animal. This pictograph also represents a chief or other leader. When two oxen are yoked together for pulling a wagon or plow, one is the older and more experienced one who leads the other. Within the clan, tribe or family the chief or father is seen as the elder who is yoked to the others as the leader and teacher. The various meanings of alef are oxen, yoke, and learn. Each of these meanings is related to the meanings of the pictograph a. The root pla is an adopted root from the parent root la (EL) meaning, strength, power, and chief and is the probable original name of the pictograph a. The l is a shepherd staff and represents authority as well as a yoke. Combined these two pictographs la mean “strong authority”. The la can also be understood as the “ox in the yoke”. Many Near Eastern cultures worshipped the god la (EL) depicted as a bull in carvings and statues. Israel chose the form of a calf (young bull) as an image of YHVH at Mount Sinai showing their association between the word la and the ox or bull. The word la is also commonly used in the Hebrew Bible for God or any god.
Images of calves near Mount Moriah in modern-day Saudi Arabia
Thus, the children of Israel might have been attempting to depict their El using the symbol of an ox, which for them must have been the most logical choice of image. Therefore, they did not violate the first commandment in the Covenant “I am YHVH Your Elohim… You shall not have other elohim against My face”, as many today accuse Israel, but the second commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness…” The golden calf sin originated when the children of Israel were so scared of the grandeur of YHVH’s presence on Mount Sinai that they chose not to continue to listen to and said to Mosheh “You speak with us and we hear, but let not Elohim speak with us, lest we die.” (Exo 20:19) If they had chosen to just continue to listen to, they would have heard the warning in Exo_20:23 , “You do not make besides Me mighty ones of silver, and you do not make mighty ones of gold for yourselves”, and would not have sinned by having made a gold image of YHVH. Nevertheless, it was a grievous sin.
Nahum M. Sarna addresses this challenge (The JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus, Nahum M. Sarna, Jewish Publication Society, Pg. 204):
Rashbam and other medieval Jewish commentators have pointed out that the people “could not have been so stupid” as to believe that this freshly manufactured image was itself a deity responsible for the Exodus from Egypt. Rather, they felt that the object was a potent symbol that acquired a numinous quality, and that they could invoke the Deity through it. It is to be noted that the demonstrative pronoun (ellah) and the verb governed by elohim, God, are in the plural form, and that a plural verb is also used in verses 1 and 23. Plural forms with elohim are found in a monotheistic context several times in the Bible, (1Sa_17:26, 36; Jer_10:10) and there is as yet no satisfactory explanation for this anomaly. In the present chapter the plural usage may be a scribal device to emphasize the unacceptable nature of the object. Aaron made only one image, and significantly, Neh_9:18, in recalling this episode, has the cry of the people in the singular, “This [zeh] is your God who brought you out [he’elkha] of Egypt.”
Day 19. On the next day [the 19th] Mosheh ascended early in the morning that he might atone for the sin of the children of Israel (Exo_32:30). He spent another forty days and forty nights with wrath of El with no bread nor water begging for mercy because of the sin of the golden calf until the 29th of the fifth month when he descended to the camp. It is not arbitrary to say that those forty days Mosheh was begging for mercy for his people, because very clearly he told the new generation forty years later that he prostrated before YHVH forty complete days: I fell down before Yehovah the forty days and forty nights. It is important to notice this in order to distinguish these forty days from the rest. We read in the context,
So I fell down before Yehovah the forty days and forty nights, for I fell down because Yehovah had said He would destroy you. And I prayed to Yehovah, and said, ‘O Master Yehovah, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed in Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a strong hand. ‘Remember Your servants, Abraham, Yitshaq, and Ya’akov. Do not look on the stubbornness of this people, or on their wrong or on their sin, lest the land from which You brought us should say, “Because Yehovah was not able to bring them to the land which He promised them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness.” ‘And they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm.’ (Deu 9:25-29)
YHVH told Mosheh to make himself an ark of acacia where he was to put the broken pieces, because although the people had broken the Covenant the pieces of the two tablets were still sacred (Deu_10:1-2). The Golden Ark of the Covenant was not made yet; it would be built later. Mosheh made an ark of acacia wood, hewed two tablets of stone like the first.
Day 30. Mosheh ascended early in the morning Mount Sinai with the two tablets for a third set of forty days and forty nights (Deu_10:3-5) and prayed for forgiveness of Israel’s sin (Exo_34:1-9). He spent as at the first forty days and forty nights with no bread, nor water (Deu_9:18). Notice the words Mosheh used: as at the first, forty days and forty nights and that time once more.
And I took the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes, and I fell down before Yehovah, as at the first, forty days and forty nights. I did not eat bread and I did not drink water, because of all your sins which you committed in doing evil in the eyes of Yehovah, to provoke Him. Because I was afraid of the displeasure and rage with which Yehovah was wroth with you, to destroy you. But Yehovah listened to me that time once more. (Deu 9:17-19)
YHVH renewed the Covenant with Israel and wrote on these tablets the Words that were on the first tablets and Mosheh spent another forty days and forty nights there in reconciliation (Exo_34:10-28, Deu_10:10).
THE SIXTH MONTH OF THE YEAR
Rashi comments on Deu_9:18,
As it says, “And now I will go up to the Lord, perhaps I will atone [for the golden calf]”. At that ascent, I stayed there forty days; consequently, these ended on the twenty-ninth of Av (5th month), since he [Moses] ascended on the eighteenth of Tammuz (4th month). On the same day, God was reconciled with Israel and He said to Moses, “Hew for yourself two tablets” (Exo_34:1). He [Moses] remained there another forty days; consequently, these ended on Yom Kippur [the tenth of Tishri]. On that very day, the Holy One, blessed is He, was joyfully reconciled with Israel, and He said to Moses, “I have forgiven according to your words” (Num_14:20). Therefore [Yom Kippur] was designated [as a day] for pardon and forgiveness. And from where do we know that [God] was reconciled [with Israel] in complete acceptance? Because it says referring to the forty [days] of the later tablets, “And I remained on the mountain as the first days” (Deu_10:10). Just as the first [forty days] were with [God’s] good will, so too, the last [forty days] were with [God’s] good will. We may now deduce that the intermediate [forty days] were with [God’s] anger. — [Seder Olam , ch. 6]
THE SEVENTH MONTH OF THE YEAR
Day 10. On the tenth of the seventh month YHVH was appeased to Israel and He said to Mosheh, “I have forgiven, as you have spoken.” Thus, on the tenth day of the seventh month which later would become Yom Kippur the third period of forty days of reconciliation ended. And when Mosheh came down from Mount Sinai, while the two tablets of the Witness were in Mosheh’s hand, the skin of his face was shining since he had spoken with YHVH. He put the tablets of the Renewed Covenant in the ark which he had made and they were there as YHVH had commanded him until the Golden Ark was made (Deu 10:5). Mosheh called out Aharon and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him, and Mosheh spoke to them and commanded them all that YHVH had spoken with him on Mount Sinai (Exo_34:29-32). Thus, Mosheh was hundred and twenty days with YHVH on the summit of the mountain: three forty-day periods.
Day 11. On the morrow of the next day, Mosheh assembled the people and related all the words which YHVH had commanded him (Exo_18:13, Exo_35:1). Because of the sin of the golden calf, Mosheh took his tent and pitched it for himself outside the camp and he called it the Tent of Meeting, so that anyone who would seek YHVH would go out to the Tent of Meeting (Exo_33:7) and inquire. After He spoke with him, Mosheh would return to the camp and teach the elders what he had learned. Mosheh conducted himself in this way from Yom Kippur until the Dwelling Place of the Tent of Meeting was erected, but no longer than that. And they commenced with the donation for the Tabernacle and its construction by skilled workmen (Exo_35:20-35).
So, let us summarize what took place from the giving of the Torah on: on the7th of the third month, Mosheh went up onto the mountain. On the 17th of the fourth month, the tablets were broken. On the 18th, Mosheh burned the Golden Calf and judged the transgressors. On the 19th, he went up for a second set of forty days and pleaded for mercy. On the 30th of the fifth month, he went up to receive the second tablets, and was there for a third set of forty days. On the 10th of the seventh month, YHVH by His mercy restored His goodwill with Israel and gave him the Second Set of Tablets. Therefore, Mosheh spent three sets of forty days each, or total of a hundred and twenty days with YHVH.
In the next five months and twenty days the Ark, the Tabernacle, and everything needed for the service were made (Exo_37:1-15) and it was erected on the first day of the first month of the second year (Exo_40:17). During this period of time the laws of the Levites, as we know them today as The Book of Leviticus, were given prior to the erection of the Tabernacle as means through which the children of YHVH could draw near (korban) to the Creator.
So, the first set of tablets was given at Shavuot in the third month and the second set of the Renewed Covenant at Yom Kippur in the seventh month which makes the building of the Tabernacle to have lasted for five months: from the seventh month to the first day of the first month of the second year when the Tabernacle was raised (Exo_40:2).
Here is the place to say that Exodus 18 (the coming of Yithro, that is Jethro, into the camp) is not written in chronological order and its place should be here, after Yom Kippur, because before the giving of the Torah it was impossible to say, “When they have a matter, they come to me, and I rightly rule between one and another, and make known the laws of Elohim and His Torot” (Exo_18:16) since the statutes had not yet been given. And from the time that the Torah was given, until Yom Kippur, Mosheh did not have the chance to sit down to judge the people, as seen from the chronology of the events.
If this is so, in this chapter of Exodus, we see a new element: ‘the laws’ (Exo_18:20).
And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and shall show them the way in which they must walk, and the work that they must do. (Exo 18:20)
The opinion of the present author is that the laws in the Book of Leviticus were given because of the golden calf sin of the children of Israel. The nature of these laws is to teach Israel how to come near to their Creator when they have sinned unintentionally. Had not they transgressed the Second command of the Covenant, there would have been no need for the laws. It seems like that was the understanding of Apostle Shaul when he wrote in Gal_3:19 that the law was added because of the transgressions:
Why, then, the Torah?
It was added because of transgressions, until the Seed should come to whom the promise was made. And it was ordained through messengers in the hand of a mediator.
What actually took place when the people were gathered at the mountain of YHVH? At Sinai the Sovereign Creator entered into a Marriage Covenant with the children of Israel, and they became the “bride” of YHVH. The seven unconditional promises which YHVH made to the children of Israel before the exodus (as already seen in Exo_6:6-8) represented the preliminary terms of the wedding contract between Him and His people. These preliminary terms, as a statement of what is required as part of the agreement, were necessary to be set by the Groom before the bride. And they had been set unconditionally before the deliverance from Egypt took place. Those promises with regards to the deliverance from Egypt had already been fulfilled unconditionally. What was yet to be fulfilled was the promise to bring people to the Promised Land and give it as an inheritance:
Preamble of The Wedding
- I brought you out from Egypt
- I brought you out of their bondage
- I redeemed you
- I took you to Me for My people
- I am Your Elohim
- I will bring you to the Promised Land
- I will give it to you as an inheritance.
Let us again go through the two types of agreements between a king and his vassal in order to better understand what happened at Mount Sinai. The Covenant which YHVH made with Avraham was an unconditional oath. Avraham did not have to do anything but to accept it as a gift as a vassal would do. The curses of the oath are against those who may lift up a hand against Avraham to deprive him from YHVH’s gift, the Promised Land:
Royal Grant Treaty:
- YHVH took the oath
- To protect the rights of Avraham
- The curses are against those who may deprive Avraham of YHVH’s gift
- The Grant (gift) is promised to all future offspring of Avraham
- The Grant is a reward for his faithful service
- Unconditional Covenant/Promise
On the other hand, the Covenant between YHVH and the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai was conditional and Israel has the full responsibility to stay in the Covenant once they have taken the oath:
- Israel takes the oath
- To protect the right of YHVH
- The curses are against Israel if she is disobedient
- No guarantee for future generations
- Primarily political in nature
- Conditional Covenant
Now, since YHVH reiterated before the Israelites the Covenant made with Avraham (Exo_6:1-8), He took the oath again (Deu_7:8) to assure His promise just before the Exodus of Avraham’s descendants took place. Throughout the Scripture two important words have been used to describe the legal status of taking promise: neder, vow and shabah, to swear, oath (hence, Shabbat, oath) and they are two different words. Neder, vow is from men to YHVH (Gen_28:20, Gen_31:13, Jdg_11:30, 2Sa_15:7, Ecc_5:4) while shabah, oath, literally to seven oneself , is from YHVH to men, (Gen_26:3, Deu_7:8, Psa_105:9, Jer_11:5), and between men (Jos_2:17, Eze_21:23, Neh_6:18). The meaning of shabah comes from the common practice of making seven declarations when making an oath, hence, shabah, seven. This declaration can be making the oath seven times or doing seven things to show the sincerity of the oath. A related word to shabah is shavuah, meaning week.
What seven declarations YHVH did make when He retook the oath before Israel? These are the seven promises in Exo_6:1-8 which are in the Preamble of the Wedding at Mount Sinai. What are the seven things He did before having given them the Covenant? These are the seven tests of YHVH before giving Israel the Covenant on the seventh day of third month (notice, all took place on Sabbath, the seventh day of the week):
1. on the 10th of the first month: they were tested whether they would put the blood of the lamb on the door posts,
2. on the 17th: they were tested when they were turned back to Pi Hahiroth and approached nearer to Egypt whether they would rebel against Mosheh,
3. on the 24th: they went into the wilderness, where they were tested with bitter waters at Marah,
4. on the 15th of the second month: exactly one month to the day after Israel departed out of Egypt when the dough that they had taken out of Egypt was depleted, they grumbled again,
5. on the 22nd: by giving them manna Elohim tested them whether they would keep the Sabbath commandment,
6. on the 29th: the strife of Israel at Rephidim, when Israel tried YHVH for the lack of water
7. on the 6th of the third month: whether they would accept the Covenant.
A pattern of seven I will statements (Lev_26:3-12) or another set of seven declarations of blessings which are indeed an intricate part of the Covenant is made evident by their connection not only with the giving of the Covenant at Mount Sinai, but also with the promises made by YHVH in Egypt.
After having said all that, we are ready to proceed to the wedding ceremony at Mount Sinai. While describing the Covenant at Sinai, it is important to remember that the Hebrew wedding ceremony is based upon the pattern of this Covenant.
The proposal and engagement (The Covenant is proposed) (Exo_19:5-6).
The people accept the invitation to enter the covenant (Exo_19:8).
Stipulations of the Covenant. The Wedding.
The stage for the ceremony is set. The Bride is to be ready on the third day (symbolic of two millenia of preparation then in the 3rd millennium the Bride is to be found worthy before the Bridegroom) (Exo_19:9-17).
YHVH enters the chuppah of thick cloud (Exo_19:18-25).
The ketubah (the Wedding Contract) is read aloud for all to hear (Exo_20:2-17).
The bride, Israel, makes Mosheh a legal representative (Exo_20:18-21).
The terms of the agreement are set before the people (Exo 21-23).
Israel enters the Covenant and the Covenant is accepted (Exo_24:3).
Mosheh as a bride representative writes the terms in a book and seals it with blood (Exo_24:4-6).
The Book of the Covenant is read publicly; the people affirm the covenant and pledge obedience (Exo_24:7).
Mosheh sprinkles the people (the pillars) with blood: The Covenant is ratified (Exo_24:5-8).
Mosheh goes up into the mount to YHVH to get the Ratified Covenant (Exo_24:12-13): tablets of stone, the laws, and the commandments. The ratified Covenant is being written for six days and on the seventh day He called to Mosheh out of the midst of the cloud (Exo_24:15-18).
Mosheh receives further instructions for the Wedding how to build the Ark of the Witness of the Covenant (Exo 25), the Set-apart Dwelling Place where YHVH will dwell with the people (Exo 26-27), establish the priesthood which will observe the terms of the everlasting Marriage (Exo 28-30). (Exo_25:1 to Exo_31:11).
The Sabbath Day is given as a sign of the marriage (The Covenant) (Exo_31:13-18).
The Bride’s first infidelity:
The golden calf incident. The marriage Covenant is broken (Exo_32:1-25).
Mosheh ordains officially the Levites as priests that day (Exo_32:26-29).
Mosheh as the bride’s representative intercedes for Israel (Exo_32:30-32).
YHVH punishes those who have sinned but the bride remains (Exo_32:33-35).
The Marriage Covenant is renewed:
YHVH reaffirms the Covenant (Exo_33:1-23).
YHVH renews the Covenant (Exo_34:1-26).
YHVH gives the new set of the Covenant (Exo_34:27-28).
Mosheh reveals to the people all that YHVH has spoken (Exo_34:29-33).
Preparation for the Wedding ceremony:
The Bride build the dwelling Place for the Groom (Exo_35:1 to Exo_39:43).
YHVH ordains officially the Levites as priests (Exo_40:12-15).
The cloud covers the Tabernacle with which the union is consummated (Exo_40:17-34).
No longer is YHVH simply the Sovereign One or the Creator of the universe; He is specifically identified now as the Elohim of Israel fulfilling Exo_6:7. This title clearly shows the nature of the Covenant that has been entered into. YHVH has bound Himself to the children of Israel.